‘We won’t tolerate deceptive marketing to vulnerable patients’: FDA sends warning letters to three CBD makers for false claims that the drug can stop seizures and cure cancer
- Since September 2017, the FDA has now forced 450 websites to scrap false claims that CBD can cure diseases
- Doctors say wild claims of a ‘silver bullet’ may drive patients to put all their hopes on one drug and ditch other medications, which could prove fatal
US regulators have sent warning letters to three companies marketing CBD products with false claims that they can treat cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and seizures.
Nutra Pure, PotNetwork Holdings, and Advanced Spine and Pain describe their various gummies, gels and oils as effective medications but present no data to back it up.
On Tuesday, the US Food and Drug Administration gave the companies 15 days to change their marketing or pull their products.
Scott Gottlieb, out-going director of the FDA, said that since September 2017, the agency has now forced 450 websites to scrap false claims that CBD can cure diseases.
Since September 2017, the FDA has now forced 450 websites to scrap false claims that CBD can cure diseases
THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THC AND CBD
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are both derived from the cannabis plant.
Together, they are part of the cannabinoid group of compounds found in hashish, hash oil, and most strains of marijuana.
THC is the psychoactive compound responsible for the euphoric, ‘high’ feeling often associated with marijuana.
THC interacts with CB1 receptors in the central nervous system and brain and creates the sensations of euphoria and anxiety.
CBD does not fit these receptors well, and actually decreases the effects of THC, and is not psychoactive.
CBD is thought to help reduce anxiety and inflammation.
CBD is akin to a supplement – it does not produce psychoactive effects (that’s THC) and the US government is considering allowing its use in food and drink.
But there are a few main issues that concern doctors about overarching claims that CBD could cure diseases.
First, Alzheimer’s cannot be cured, and even after years of clinical trials it seems we may not fully understand what causes the disease.
Second, there is still very little evidence to show that CBD has powerful, universal therapeutic effects.
For example, although CBD has been beneficial to some people with epilepsy, it was not for others – in the same way that the keto diet works for some epileptics and not others.
Second, and more importantly, wild claims of a ‘silver bullet’ may drive patients to put all their hopes on one drug and ditch other medications, which could prove fatal.
That is especially concerning for oncologists: cancer patients often face grueling, arduous treatments to banish the disease. Claims of a natural alternative are tantalizing.
Indeed, a recent Yale study found cancer patients who use complementary medicine have a higher risk of dying because they are more likely to forego key parts of their conventional treatment.
In recent years there has been a boom in the rate of patients using ‘complementary medicine’ – such as vitamin D supplements, cannabis oil, and acupuncture – alongside their traditional chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery.
Unlike people who practice ‘alternative therapy’ (using only non-traditional treatments), complementary medicine patients use these methods as an added boost.
However, research by Yale University shows most people with treatable cancers who try these complementary methods tend to forego at least one component of the conventional treatment that their doctor recommends.
Unequivocally, those who did drop part or all of their treatment in favor of complementary medicine had a higher risk of death.
Dr Gottlieb said the agency ‘won’t tolerate this kind of deceptive marketing to vulnerable patients.’